Seasonal Flavors: Morel Mushroom Broccolini Pasta Primavera

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Morel Mushroom Broccolini Pasta Primavera. Photo: Denise Zito.

I wrote about the cult of the morel mushroom finders in this column a few years ago.  And now at last, I am a member!  I call it a cult because the members maintain a vow of secrecy as to where they find these amazing fungi.  After several years of trying, I at last found my first morel mushroom.  They’ve been popping up here since mid-April, and their very short season (till mid-May), make them a true delicacy.

Once again, I had asked my son Joel to take me with him on the hunt, because he’s a real pro.  

“OK, Mom, how about tomorrow?”  

“Sure!”

He got busy on his farm and didn’t show up.

“Sorry, Mom, let’s go on Thursday.”

“Great.”

He must have gotten busy again, so I gave up waiting, handed baskets to my two small grandchildren, and we set off in the direction that he had indicated, although previously, I had never found a mushroom there—and, yet, there they were! Even the four-year-old found one.

This was a peak life experience for me, but now the question: what to do with them?

I happened to have a garden success story in that I had planted broccolini plants last autumn, covered them with garden cloth, and now had a substantial crop—along with a few cabbages and even brussel sprouts.

And then I thought, why not go all the way and make my own pasta?

This recipe can be made with any old mushroom, and frozen broccoli and boxed pasta, but if you have the time, a pasta roller, and someone gifts you a few morels, go for it.

N.B. Joel redeemed himself the following day by bringing me a large container of morels.  He also stuffed some of his morels with brie cheese, fried them, and brought us a couple to taste. Love that guy. 

Morel mushrooms. Photo: Denise Zito.

Morel Mushroom Broccolini Pasta Primavera

For the pasta sauce:

  • 8-12 oz morel mushrooms, 
  • cleaned and sliced
  • 8-12 oz broccolini
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 cup grated Romano cheese
  • ¾ cup heavy cream

For the pasta:

  • 1 ½ cup flour 
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 ½ tsp olive oil

Make the pasta by combining all ingredients and mixing into a dough. If you have a standing mixer, use the bread hook, combine the ingredients, and knead for five minutes. Otherwise, mix with your hands and knead for 10 minutes manually.

Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 30-60 minutes.

Use a pasta maker to roll the dough into a sheet, stopping at setting ‘3,’ i.e. leave the pasta dough on the thick side. Cut with the pasta maker, or by hand, and lay the pasta on a tea towel, covering with a second tea towel until you’re ready to cook it.

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil.

Sauté the mushrooms in the oil until they release their liquid, and then continue to cook until this water has evaporated. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Turn off the heat.

When the water comes to a rolling boil, add the broccolini and cook for 5 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to remove it from the water and add it to the mushroom and garlic pan.  Turn the heat back on low, to keep the vegetables warm.

Now add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for about five minutes, until al dente.

Strain the pasta and add to the vegetables, then sprinkle the cheese, add the cream and stir to combine. Serve immediately. Never let the pasta wait for the guests; better to make the guests wait for the pasta.

Makes two generous helpings.

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